Eight in Ten (79%) Canadians Believe Childhood Obesity is a ‘Major Health Problem’ Facing the Country’s Youth

But Fewer than One in Ten (7%) Parents Think Their Children are Overweight

Friday, June 14, 2013

Toronto, ON – A new study conducted by Ipsos Reid reveals that a strong majority of Canadians believe that obesity is one of the most prominent problems facing the country’s younger demographic, yet few parents believe that their own child(ren) are overweight.

Eight in ten (79%) Canadians say childhood obesity is a ‘major problem’, while another two in ten (19%) believe it to be only a ‘minor problem’. Just 2% of Canadians say that childhood obesity is ‘not at problem at all’ when it comes to the country’s youth.

  • Residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (87%) and Ontario (82%) are most likely to believe that childhood obesity is a major problem facing Canadian youth, ahead of Atlantic Canadians (81%), Albertans (79%), and British Columbians (78%). Quebecers (73%) are the least likely to say it’s a major problem
  • Canadian seniors (84%), ages 55+, are more likely than their middle-aged (79%), ages 35-54, and younger (74%), ages 18-34, counterparts to believe that childhood obesity is a major problem.

Provided with a list of five of the top issues relating to children’s health, Canadians ranked ‘childhood obesity’ as a close second, only slightly behind ‘drug use’ (83%) as a ‘major problem’ facing Canada’s youth. The table below outlines in full the opinions of Canadians on the severity of problems facing youth today.

Top Issues Major Problem Minor Problem Not a problem at all
Drug Use 83% 15% 2%
Childhood Obesity 79% 19% 2%
Smoking 71% 26% 3%
Alcohol 69% 29% 2%
Mental Health 65% 31% 4%

It is interesting to note that so many believe childhood obesity is a major problem, yet so few parents believe their children are overweight. Nine in ten (89%) Canadian parents of children ages 17 and under believe their child is at ‘a healthy weight’, compared to just one in ten (7%) who indicate that their child is ‘overweight’ and 4% who claim their child to be ‘underweight’. Statistics Canada data reports that 32% of Canadian children are overweight or obese, highlighting a stark contrast between what parents think and the reality of the situation in many cases.

These questions were asked in advance of Ipsos’ upcoming Childhood Obesity Ideation Insight syndicated study, which is designed for the government, health and education sectors and related agencies and associations to explore what parents and their children are doing, or not doing, to tackle the obesity issue. The study will also explore what are parents and their children doing, or not doing, to tackle this issue; the effectiveness of the strategies being recommended by experts and health stakeholders; who Canadians think is responsible, and who is capable of delivering a solution.. For more information about the study, please visit: http://www.ipsos-na.com/products-tools/public-affairs/syndicated-studies/childhood-obesity.aspx.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid survey in which a sample of 1,025 Canadians, which includes 221 parents with at least one child in the household ages 17 and under, from Ipsos' Canadian online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 3.5 percentage points had all Canadians adults been surveyed, and to within +/- 7.5 percentage points had all Canadian parents with children in the household ages 17 and under been surveyed. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Brad Griffin
Vice President
Ipsos Reid Public Affairs
Qualitative Hothouse
(416) 324-2900

About Ipsos Reid

Ipsos Reid is Canada's market intelligence leader, the country's leading provider of public opinion research, and research partner for loyalty and forecasting and modelling insights. With operations in eight cities, Ipsos Reid employs more than 600 research professionals and support staff in Canada. The company has the biggest network of telephone call centres in the country, as well as the largest pre-recruited household and online panels. Ipsos Reid's marketing research and public affairs practices offer the premier suite of research vehicles in Canada, all of which provide clients with actionable and relevant information. Staffed with seasoned research consultants with extensive industry-specific backgrounds, Ipsos Reid offers syndicated information or custom solutions across key sectors of the Canadian economy, including consumer packaged goods, financial services, automotive, retail, and technology & telecommunications. Ipsos Reid is an Ipsos company, a leading global survey-based market research group.

To learn more, please visit www.ipsos.ca.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. In October 2011 Ipsos completed the acquisition of Synovate. The combination forms the world’s third largest market research company.

With offices in 85 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,789 billion (2.300 billion USD) in 2012.

Eight in Ten (79%) Canadians Believe Childhood Obesity is a ‘Major Health Problem’ Facing the Country’s Youth

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Brad Griffin
Senior Vice President, Canada
Ipsos Public Affairs